HF 7870

Preparing for your Gastric Emptying Scan

Check in Date and Time: 


Where will I have the test done?


University Hospital

600 Highland Ave

Madison, WI 53792

Go through the lobby to the 2nd floor atrium elevators. Go up to 3rd floor. Follow the signs to Radiology.  


American Family Children's Hospital 

1675 Highland Ave, Madison, 53792

Check-in at the Diagnostic and Therapy Center. You will be taken to University Hospital for your scan.

If you need to reschedule the test, call the Radiology Department at 608-263-9729

What is it?

The gastric emptying scan is a test to look at how quickly food leaves your stomach. 

How should I get ready for the test?

  • Do not eat or drink any food or liquids for 6 hours before your check in time.

  • If you smoke, do not smoke the morning of the test.

  • Two days before the test your doctor may have you stop taking these medicines.

    • Some may affect how quickly food moves through your stomach, such as, Reglan (metoclopramide), Motilium (domperidone), Bentyl (dicyclomine), Donnatal, Zelnorm (tegaserod), erythromycin

    • Pain medicines, such as codeine, Percocet (oxycodone), Tylenol #3, OxyContin, Percodan, fentanyl patch, methadone, Vicodin (hydrocodone), Ultram (tramadol) can also affect your stomach.

    • Do not take any laxatives the day before or the day of the test.

    • Your doctor may not want you to stop certain medicines. They may want to see how they are working.

    • A pharmacist will review your medicines. If needed they will contact your doctor.

  • If you have diabetes, talk to your primary doctor about how to manage your medicine.

  • Talk to your doctor to see if you can take other medicines with a sip of water the day of the test. Take these at least 2 hours before you arrive at the hospital for the test.

  • If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant or breast feeding, please tell us. This test should not be done if you are pregnant or breast-feeding except under special conditions.

 What can I expect during the test?

The test will take about 4-5 hours. For infants about 2 1/2 hours. 

You will be given a small meal of cooked egg whites, bread and water. The food you eat has a small amount of a radioactive substance in it. The radioactive substance has no taste and the food tastes normal. If you have a confirmed allergy to eggs or wheat (gluten), tell us and a different meal will be provided for you.

After eating the meal, pictures will be taken of your stomach over the next 4 hours. You may be standing. If you cannot stand for 5 minutes, please let us know. You will be able to move around between the picture-taking. You may want to bring a book or something else to help pass the time. Do not eat or drink anything other than what we give you during the test. 

Infants: will have formula instead of the described meal. Pictures will be taken over a 2-hour period.

After the test is done:

You can return home and begin your regular diet and medicines.  

For any questions, please call Radiology at 608-263-9729. 

Toll free 1-800-323-8942; ask for Radiology.


Camilleri, M. & Shin, A. (2013) Novel and validated approaches for gastric emptying scintigraphy in patients with suspected gastroparesis. Digestive Diseases & Sciences, 58 (7), 1813-1815. DOI 10.1007/s10620-013-2715-9.

Maurer, A. H. (2015) Gastrointestinal motility, Part 1: Esophageal transit and gastric emptying. Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 56 (8), 1229-1238.

Maurer, A. H. (2012) Advancing gastric emptying studies: Standardization and new parameters to assess gastric motility and function. Seminars in Nuclear Medicine, 42, (2), 101-112.